Going away to college can be scary, especially if it’s your first real foray into working with type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) professionals on your own. Your type 1 diabetes care team is critical to your physical well-being as well as your success in college, so invest time up front in finding good professionals to work with.
When you visit colleges, visit their health centers. Make an appointment to meet with representatives there about type 1 diabetes care. Interview the doctors, nurses, and educators. Your parents will most likely be very helpful to you in completing this process. Don’t feel you have to rely on the school health center use them if better health care might be available in the area. You may want to ask your pediatrician for recommendations of endocrinologists in the area.
Discuss health insurance coverage with your parents before you leave home. You should know what your options are, how to handle emergency situations, and what your insurance requires.
More tips for college:
- Request a meeting with your parents and the resident assistant to go over emergency procedures. Offer to give the RA a glucagon kit to use in case you have severe low blood sugar.
- Have a small refrigerator in your room for supplies and snacks. You may want to buy it yourself instead of sharing the expense with a roommate so you won’t feel guilty taking up so much of the space. Let friends know that snacks in the refrigerator are necessary for you and ask them not to help themselves without asking first.
- Whatever you take for insulin reactions, have your parents buy it by the case. That way, you won’t think twice about sticking a handful into whatever bag or coat you grab.
- When you go to a party, make sure that someone you know will be there – someone who knows you have type 1 diabetes and what to do in case of a reaction.
- If you don’t have relatives or friends nearby, have your parents network through their friends to find someone who can act as an emergency contact when needed.
- Make the decision to ALWAYS wear a Medic Alert bracelet. There are many different styles available these days.
- Photocopy insurance and prescription cards, in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Your parents should keep a copy. Keep another in your dorm room.
- Have two blood glucose meters, in case one malfunctions, and extra batteries.
- Make sure you have a safe system for discarding needles and strips.
- Keep a three-month inventory of supplies. Be sure to check periodically and call home before you start to run low. As a safeguard against running out of insulin, make sure your prescriptions are on file at a local pharmacy.
- Thank your roommate ahead of time for providing support. An occasional card or small gift works wonders.